The draft resolution on the Lebanon crisis under discussion the UN Security Council this week is very much Washington’s resolution. And it appears that now Washington (likely with British support) stands largely alone, as even France, which backed the original proposal, has withdrawn its support. The U.S. draft does not call for a ceasefire; it is qualitatively discriminatory between the two sides; it has already been rejected by the government of Lebanon as well as by Hezbollah; and even if implemented it will not bring peace. An AP story released even before the full text was released recognized the agreement as a “major victory for the U.S. and Israel.”
And now it appears France has distanced itself from the resolution and is looking to replace it with language that would incorporate Lebanon’s demands for a full ceasefire and an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese territory. A high-level delegation of the Arab League came to New York on August 8 to meet with the Security Council, to raise powerful and region-wide objections to the draft, opposition led by the Lebanese government but including major U.S. Arab allies as well. While the regional (and especially Lebanese) opposition poses serious challenges to the resolution even getting to the table in its current form, diplomatic sources at the UN indicated as of August 7 that the U.S., at least, was likely to hear out the Arab leaders but largely dismiss their concerns.
Some Council ambassadors have made relatively strong public statements regarding the need for an immediate ceasefire. But until France retreated on August 8 from its support for the U.S.-orchestrated approach there was little evidence that their governments will actually stand defiant of the current resolution. A strong opposition from Paris could signal a broader international rejection of the U.S. effort to give a UN endorsement to Israel’s continuing war.
Passage of the resolution would not lead to a ceasefire, or even a significant reduction in violence; Condoleezza Rice said she did not expect the resolution to bring about an immediate end to the violence, and noted that “these things take a while to wind down.” Israel’s justice minister Haim Ramon told the New York Times that Israel would continue its attacks and that its forces would remain in Lebanon “until the international force arrived.” Since the current draft does not even call for creation of such a force, mentioning it only as a future goal to be addressed in a subsequent resolution, Israel’s announcement is a clear warning of continuing war.
This is the second shift for France. As AP described it, “France and many other nations had demanded an immediate and halt to violence without conditions as a way to push the region back toward stability.” But then, despite widespread public pressure for a ceasefire, France had embraced the U.S. position. Perhaps Paris judged that supporting even a flawed ceasefire at the UN was politically less risky than acknowledging that U.S. power was once again paralyzing the Security Council. But when Lebanon and the Arab governments took a stronger than anticipated stance against the resolution, France’s position (given its desire to return as a major economic and political power in Lebanon) became untenable, and it reversed itself again.
Certainly the weaknesses and unfairness of the resolution forced the government of Lebanon to oppose it, which risked positioning Lebanon along with Hezbollah as the “rejectionist” party. Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Sinioria, who came to power with full U.S. backing in the wake of Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon last year, has made powerful statements resisting Israel’s assault. But Sinioria described the U.S.-French draft resolution cautiously as “not adequate,” and his cabinet spokesman went to great lengths to explain that the government had not rejected the draft entirely, believing that it “goes some way, but has weaknesses.” It was left to Lebanon’s speaker of the parliament and top negotiator with France and the U.S., Nabih Berri, in a clear rejection, to make clear that the resolution agreement was based on “dictation, not negotiation.” It was based, he said, on “Israel’s requirements, but not Lebanon’s needs.” A similar position, voiced by Arab League General Secretary Amr Moussa, will significantly shore up Lebanon’s rejection. Iran and Syria both quietly rejected the resolution, but without fanfare or new threats.
Lebanon’s proposal, beyond calling for an immediate ceasefire on both sides and an Israeli withdrawal out of Lebanese territory, plans to send 15,000 Lebanese soldiers to the south under the auspices of the existing UN peacekeeping force there. In comments designed to assure Israel that Hezbollah would not remain able to fight under such conditions, Prime Minister Sinioria told al-Arabiya television that under such an arrangement, “there will be no authority, no one in command, no weapons, other than those of the Lebanese state.”
Problems in the proposed resolution:
- The first operative paragraph (after the preamble) sets the stage. It calls for “a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations.” So right from the beginning there is no mutual ceasefire; Hezbollah must immediately cease “all” attacks, while Israel is only required to stop “offensive” military activity, with no definition of what Israel might consider “defensive” and therefore acceptable under the terms of the resolution. There is no identification of what agency (the UN, UNIFIL, the Lebanese army, whoever) might play a role in determining what is offensive and what is defensive. Nothing in the resolution requires an Israeli withdrawal of its occupying forces from Lebanon.
- Overall the resolution is consistently one-sided, holding Hezbollah responsible for the crisis and requiring action largely from Hezbollah, while failing to acknowledge any Israeli responsibility. This includes origins of the conflict: the resolution defines the hostilities beginning with “Hezbollah’s attack on Israel on 12 July 2006,” ignoring Israel’s role in transforming a border skirmish into a full-scale regional war. It implies parity between the vastly disparate levels of death and destruction on the two sides, even failing to identify Israeli war crimes with the legalistic term “disproportionate.”
- The resolution ignores the link between the Lebanon war and Palestine – in fact it does not mention Gaza at all. In asserting as the only cause for the current war the Hezbollah attack of July 12 (when the two Israeli soldiers were captured), the resolution delinks the Lebanon war from Palestine, and implicitly continues Israel’s U.S.-granted green light to continue its on-going assault in Gaza.
- On the question of prisoners, there is no reference to a prisoner exchange. There is a specific demand for the “unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers,” but in relation to the Lebanese prisoners held by Israel, there is only a reference to “encouraging the efforts aimed at settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel.” That means no actual pressure on Israel at all. There is no mention of the 9,400 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, whose release (at least that of the 300 or so children and 125+ women among them) was part of the first demand by Hezbollah in exchange for the captured prisoners.
- There is no reference to Israel’s use of internationally-designed illegal weapons. The resolution does call on Israel to turn over to the UN maps of its mine fields in south Lebanon (remaining from its 18 years of occupation) but there is no requirement that it cease its current use of prohibited cluster bombs (which become land mines when they do not detonate immediately) and white phosphorous ammunition.
- The resolution describes what a future permanent ceasefire might look like, but does not call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire now. It raises the future intention of the Council to authorize creation and deployment of a “UN mandated international force to support the Lebanese armed forces and government in providing a secure environment and contribute to the implementation of a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution.” Left unclear is whether this would be an actual UN “blue helmet” peacekeeping operation, created by and accountable to the UN, or a UN authorization for a so-called “coalition” that would be made up of a number of countries operating under a UN grant of legitimacy, but without actual UN oversight or control. The reality on the ground, of course, would look suspiciously like a re-occupation of southern Lebanon carried out by Washington’s NATO allies rather than by Israeli troops directly. The only possible hopeful sign of this aspect is the staged separation into two resolutions before trying to create the “international force.” The current draft resolution is NOT taken under Chapter VII — the follow-up resolution referred to would be under Chapter VII, necessary to authorize the use of force. France has taken the position that it would not send troops until after a ceasefire is in place AND until Hezbollah as well as the Israeli and Lebanese governments had agreed — something that’s not likely to happen any time soon. Absent that agreement, it is likely France would refuse to go forward.
- There is no reference to the seven-point plan proposed by the government of Lebanon, which begins with an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, and includes a set of conditions after such a ceasefire. That would include Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon, UNIFIL (the UN’s peacekeeping monitors on the ground) to monitor the withdrawal, the Lebanese army to take over control of the southern part of the country, and more. Lebanese officials stated that the two Hezbollah ministers within the Lebanese cabinet agreed with the call for a single national army under government control, and thus an end to their independent militia, but only if the entire package, beginning with an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, was acceptable.
As of now, the danger for civilians caught up in the war is mounting. If the proposed resolution passes, it will likely do so over the rejection of Hezbollah, and possibly over the resistance of the Lebanese government itself. It would call on Hezbollah to carry out an immediate and essentially unilateral ceasefire, something certain to be rejected, and Hezbollah will therefore not be bound by its terms. Israel will see the resolution as legitimating continued attacks on Lebanon, in the name of “defense.” If the resolution fails, the war will continue, but there will likely be a major propaganda offensive designed to undermine the global consensus that this is Israel’s and Washington’s war – and instead to project Hezbollah and Lebanon itself as the rejectionists of peace.
For the global peace movement, the demand must continue for
- an immediate, unconditional ceasefire. Anything less – a “cessation of hostilities” set for some time in the future, a one-sided ceasefire imposed on Hezbollah but not on Israel – sets the stage for the war to continue, and for more civilians to be killed.
- We must continue to educate and mobilize against this war as an arm of Washington’s effort to re-map a “new Middle East.” The destruction of Iraq, the U.S.-led international sanctions and embargo against Palestine in the context of an escalating Israeli military assault in Gaza, and Israel’s current war of annihilation against Lebanon, all are part of a linked U.S.-Israeli strategy to eliminate all resistance to their regional domination and control. The Bush administration is not supporting Israel because its resident neo-cons are more loyal to Israel than to the United States, but because their vision of a strategically unchallenged U.S. drive towards global empire, in which no nation or group of nations anywhere in the world even imagines it could match or surpass U.S. economic or military might, requires a militarized, expansionist Israel to play that same role on a regional level in the Middle East
U.S., France OK U.N. Mideast Truce Pact
By NICK WADHAMS
Bolton said the resolution would be the first of two. He said this one deals with the immediate issue of the fighting. The second would likely spell out a larger political framework for peace between Israel and Hezbollah.
[From NYT website]
August 5, 2006
Text of the Draft Security Council Resolution
Following is the text of the draft U.N. Security Council resolution:
The Security Council,
PP1. Recalling all its previous resolutions on Lebanon, in particular resolutions 425 (1978), 426 (1978), 520 (1982), 1559 (2004), 1655 (2006) and 1680 (2006), as well as the statements of its President on the situation in Lebanon, in particular the statements of 18 June 2000 (S/PRST/2000/21), of 19 October 2004 (S/PRST/2004/36), of 4 May 2005 (S/PRST/2005/17) of 23 January
2006 (S/PRST/2006/3) and of 30 July 2006 (S/PRST/2006/35),
PP2. Expressing its utmost concern at the continuing escalation of hostilities in Lebanon and in Israel since Hizbollah’s attack on Israel on 12 July 2006, which has already caused hundreds of deaths and injuries on both sides, extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons,
PP3. Emphasizing the need for an end of violence, but at the same time emphasizing the need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the current crisis, including by the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers,
PP4: Mindful of the sensitivity of the issue of prisoners and encouraging the efforts aimed at settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel,
OP1. Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;
OP2. Reiterates its strong support for full respect for the Blue Line;
OP3. Also reiterates its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized borders, as contemplated by the Israeli-Lebanese General Armistice Agreement of 23 March 1949;
OP4. Calls on the international community to take immediate steps to extend its financial and humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people, including through facilitating the safe return of displaced persons and, under the authority of the Government of Lebanon, reopening airports and harbours for verifiably and purely civilian purposes, and calls on it also to consider further
assistance in the future to contribute to the reconstruction and development of Lebanon;
OP5. Emphasizes the importance of the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory in accordance with the provisions of resolution 1559 (2004) and resolution 1680 (2006), and of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, for it to exercise its full sovereignty and authority;
OP6. Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:
- strict respect by all parties for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Israel and Lebanon;
- full respect for the Blue Line by both parties;
- delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including in the Shebaa farms area;
- security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Lebanese armed and security forces and of UN mandated international forces deployed in this area;
- full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006) that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state;
- deployment of an international force in Lebanon, consistent with paragraph 10 below;
- establishment of an international embargo on the sale or supply of arms and related material to Lebanon except as authorized by its government;
- elimination of foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government;
- provision to the United Nations of remaining maps of land mines in Lebanon in Israel’s possession;
OP7: Invites the Secretary General to support efforts to secure agreements in principle from the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel to the principles and elements for a long-term solution as set forth in paragraph 6 above;
OP8: Requests the Secretary General to develop, in liaison with key international actors and the concerned parties, proposals to implement the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), including disarmament, and for delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where the border is disputed
or uncertain, including by dealing with the Shebaa farms, and to present those proposals to the Security Council within thirty days;
OP9. Calls on all parties to cooperate during this period with the Security Council and to refrain from any action contrary to paragraph 1 above that might adversely affect the search for a long-term solution, humanitarian access to civilian populations, or the safe return of displaced persons, and requests the Secretary General to keep the Council informed in this regard;
OP10. Expresses its intention, upon confirmation to the Security Council that the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel have agreed in principle to the principles and elements for a long-term solution as set forth in paragraph 6 above, and subject to their approval, to authorize in a further resolution under Chapter VII of the Charter the deployment of a UN mandated international force to support the Lebanese armed forces and government in providing a secure environment and contribute to the implementation of a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution;
OP11. Requests UNIFIL, upon cessation of hostilities, to monitor its implementation and to extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the safe return of displaced persons;
OP12. Calls upon the Government of Lebanon to ensure arms or related materiel are not imported into Lebanon without its consent and requests UNIFIL, conditions permitting, to assist the Government of Lebanon at its request;
OP13. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council within one week on the implementation of this resolution and to provide any relevant information in light of the Council’s intention to adopt, consistent with paragraph 10 above, a further resolution;
OP14. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.
TIME Interview: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, August 6, 2006
‘I Don’t Think Iraq Is Going To Slide Into Civil War,’ Condoleezza Rice Tells TIME
‘In the Case of Lebanon, I Think Inviting Syria Back into
Lebanese Affairs…Is Grotesque,’ Rice Tells TIME
New York – “I don’t think Iraq is going to slide into civil war,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says in an interview with TIME Washington bureau chief James Carney and State Department correspondent Elaine Shannon, “They have a problem with sectarian violence. [But] I don’t think that you’re looking at the breakdown of the institutions; people haven’t opted out of a unified Iraq,” she tells TIME.
On her views about Palestine’s renunciation of violence, Rice tells TIME: “We have a Palestinian partner, by the way [Mahmoud Abbas], who has made those commitments. And I for one am not prepared to undercut him by assuming that the future of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian state rests with Hamas.”
“In the case of Lebanon, I think inviting Syria back into Lebanese affairs-as if Syria is some kind of broker of peace when it occupied the country brutally for 30 years-is grotesque,” she says.
Asked if the Middle East is becoming less dangerous as a result of the Bush Administration’s policies, Rice responds: “I find it a very odd way of looking at things that because it’s hard and turbulent, that we should wish for the good old days of the false stability of Saddam Hussein and his 300,000 people in mass graves and his chemical-weapons use and his two wars started in a period of 20 years. Or Yasser Arafat stealing the Palestinian people blind, watching the second intifadeh, the Passover Massacre. What Middle East are we taking about?”
“We are in transition to a different kind of Middle East. And it is very turbulent. It is even violent. But it has a chance, at least, of being a Middle East in which there is a democratic, multiethnic Iraq where people solve their differences by politics, not by repression. It has a chance of having Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace. It has a chance of having a Lebanon that can control its own territory without Syrian forces,” Rice says.